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« Tactics & Talk | Main | Nature's Ethics of the Fittest »

October 06, 2009


That definition of an evangelical sounds more like a political activist. It doesn't seem adequate to describe an evangelical, one who keeps to the teachings of the Gospel of Christ, without Christ. That being said, it may be a more accurate perfunctory definition of an American evangelical. It's a beautiful sort of thing...

I read the whole interview in the Boston Globe. If I didn't know who Rob Bell was reading that, I would've assumed he was some new age guru co-opting the name evangelical. Did you notice that the interviewer even mentioned that he doesn't hear a lot of mention of Jesus from Rob? That said volumes!

We're seriously going to evaluate Rob Bell based on an article in the Boston Globe?

That is NOT reasonable, folks.

And to top it off, both STR and Kevin chose to cherry-pick Rob's answers, as if to present him in the least-friendly way possible.

Take the opening Question and Rob's first answer as a case in point example:

Q: What does it mean to you to be an evangelical?
A: I take issue with the word to a certain degree, so I make a distinction between a capital ‘E’ and a small ‘e.’ I was in the Caribbean in 2004, watching the election returns with a group of friends, and when Fox News, in a state of delirious joy, announced that evangelicals had helped sway the election, I realized, this word has really been hijacked. I find the word troubling, because it has come in America to mean politically to the right, almost, at times, anti-intellectual. For many, the word has nothing to do with a spiritual context.

STR can do better.

>>”the belief that this world is good…”

This also needs clarification.

>>”And to top it off, both STR and Kevin chose to cherry-pick Rob's answers, as if to present him in the least-friendly way possible.”

This doesn’t have anything to do with being “friendly”. STR has a reputation for the fair treatment of ideas. I think Rob’s answers speak for themselves. As for the piece that you posted, I think it’s even worse.


When, in this world, would an accurate definition of Evangelical not be splattered with mud? When would the term be accepted? When will we say this very same thing about the term “Christian”?

It’s up to us to define ourselves correctly – and on this, Rob Bell missed the mark by a mile.

An Evangelical is one who proclaims the Good News. The word has been misappropriated, like many others...but I think it needs to be redeemed. The Gospel is not a political statement or a financial position, and Christians need to separate the Message from everything else.

read the whole article. cherry picking points doesn't help. Rob Bell's answer is covered in multiple points.

Bell does not accept the Bible as his sole authority for faith and practice. When you do not have the Bible as an authority, you end up wrong about other things as well.

I've posted on him on my blog.

Rob Bell and Brian Mclaren are APOSTATES! When will some of you people figure this stuff out. McLaren doesn't believe in substitutionary atonement and Bell, well it's hard figure it out.
When so-called Christians do not build on the truths of the Church but try to reinvent the wheel then you know that these guys are wrong and will turn into some kind of cult no matter what they call themselves.
These emergent people are coming from the culture (or politics)and then into the Bible instead of from the Bible and then into the culture.

PS. I heard Greg on the White Horse in this weekend (on the net) and he was great. STR and the White Horse (Modern Reformation Magazine) are a must for all Christians. Sorry about the plug.

"These emergent people are coming from the culture (or politics)and then into the Bible instead of from the Bible and then into the culture" (Les)

I believe it's true of both groups, Bell and the Evangelicals. They are both critters of their current American culture and they arrive at their conclusions starting from their when reading the bible. You just don't like Bell's conclusions.

In a sense, sure societyvs.. But it goes quite a bit past just not liking bell's conclusions.

I agree that both liberal and conservative Christians come thru their culture and into the Bible which is the wrong approach. It's not that I don't like Bell or McLaren, at least not on a personal basis, but they're are just wrong based on theology and not because it's my opinion. Please understand you can't change the basics, or dare I say the "fundamentals", and say that you are a Christian. WE ARE NOT SAVED BY SOME COLLECTIVIST VIEW OF FAITH OR BY GOOD WORKS OR BY PURSUING "JUSTICE FOR THE POOR", WHATEVER THAT MEANS.


Sorry about repeating the gospel but it needs to be repeated at least every week even for Christian.


But does Rob Bell not agree with this - if I was to take you at your word here Les I would think Bell disagrees with the idea of God's grace in salvation...does he?

As for the gospel (good news) - God has always been gracious from Noah to Abraham to Moses to Kings to Judges to Prophets to Messiah. God is calling us to have faith in Him - which entails good works and helping the poor. Just because God is gracious does not make that claim mutually exclusive and nothing else is required. We still have a committment to God to keep up.

Sure we can't re-do salvation or God's grace - we don't really control that now do we. However, we do control our committment to God and our 'faithfulness' to God. God's grace can stretch across 300 million galaxies but if we don't want it nor want to accept it - then God's grace can mean nothing also. The good news is...God made a move.

Please tell me where you are getting your ideas from. Have you ever studied first century Church fathers or Augustine or the reformers? Your ideas are based on what verses in the scriptures?

If you bothered to study reformation and first century Christian theology you would know
that we are saved by grace alone and that our "good works" are but filthy rags to God. We obey God's laws and try to do his will because-------WE DO THEM OUT OF GRATITUDE FOR THE GIFT OF GRACE!

You're adding to salvation. Does our "committment to God to keep up" then a requirement to being saved? Even our faith is given to us by God and we can't even claim that.

You need to look outside of yourself for your theology. Salvation isn't something you do it is something that happened 2000 years ago in Jerusalem, by the risen Savior.


"You need to look outside of yourself for your theology" (Les)

Oh Les, you need to re-examine the ideas of grace and faith. You claim faith is a gift - can it be resisted is the real question?

Well, in Acts it can! God's grace can be resisted.

Acts 7:51 "You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did"

How can they resist faith or grace - supplied by the Holy Spirit if it's not an 'option'?

So if one can decide not to follow the Holy Spirit (ergo faith) then how is it one can be implanted with such an idea without their 'choice' being involved? Paul mentions it twice in Acts people resisted.

Plus faith based on grace is really only 1/2 the equation. You ask me where I am getting my theology - straight from the texts - the whole texts.

God is gracious - and yes - God can be resisted - His grace can be turned away from. Not everyone accepts that kind of kindness from God - they just don't. However God is very gracious through-out least that's my take on the OT.

As for gratitude - I am not disagreeing - of course this is what we would do if someone 'forgave' us or was 'nice' to us. Your reaction is still an action/work.

If we have nothing to do with the salvation process - we are not involved one iota in our own salvation - why would Paul make the claim 'work out your salvation with fear and trembling'? What's to work at if we have nothing to do with it?

I think you are only seeing the God action (grace) side of the equation - which I agree with. But on our human side we make a committment to follow God - via Jesus and his teachings on the kingdom of God. If we do not take up that mantle - what right do we have to claim we are even following in the first place?

You probably need to become a Roman Catholic or a 7th day adventist, they're big on works righteousness.

Faith is not a work. Faith is like holding out our arms and then God drops the salvation into it. The amount of faith also, based on the scriptures, doesn't depend on the amount considering if "we had faith as big as a mustard seed we could move mountains". It's where our faith is directed.

When people argue with me concerning salvation I think the easiest thing to do is direct them to the thief on the cross.
The man was a thief and a sinner but all he did was ask Christ to save him and he did.

Like I said review the reformers view on salvation and you might have a different outlook on the subject.

"You probably need to become a Roman Catholic or a 7th day adventist, they're big on works righteousness" (Les)

You should see the faith Jesus same out of - Judaism - it's got a lot of detail about how to be a righteous person.

On a side note, I'll have you know Jospehus (yes that noted early turn of the century historian) called James (Jesus' brother) 'the righteous'. He was basing this on his observance of righteousness as termed in Judaism.

"When people argue with me concerning salvation I think the easiest thing to do is direct them to the thief on the cross" (Les)

Well the thief was about to die - all he could really do is have faith at that point - his imminent death was next. Let's suppose the theif lived for another 30 years - do you think he would still be a thief? If had stayed as a thief than what would that say about his 'faith'?

I think it's a huge cop-out for any Christian to think works and faith aren't directly tied to each other. Faith without works is beyond useless - it's as dead as that thief on the cross. James states that pretty clearly.

Because let's say I have faith - even of a mustard seed type size - yet I do nothing with my in that seeds parable. Would you say I have faith although I produced absolutely nothing with the ideas I was given by God? Even that parable, a simple parable, would indicate this point.

Faith through grace is a gift of God - I agree 100%. But faith without any type of good works associated with it means faith is nothing.

I would have to ask you Les - what is it you think faith in God is anchored in for moral value?

James didn't say that unless we have good works we are not saved---OK do we agree? He said "you save you are a believer now show me your good works". I've never said that we should not produce good works or that after we are saved that it doesn't matter what we do.

OK so you are now saved. How many good works must we accomplish to "prove that we are saved or have enough faith"? If you start putting value to works as it corresponds to salvation your theology is wrong.

It doesn't really mean anything if a secular person like Josephus calls someone, God's righteousness is the only thing that is important. Isn't are righteousness Christ's righteousness? We are not righteous at all, for all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.

"James didn't say that unless we have good works we are not saved---OK do we agree?" (Les)

"What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?" (James 2:14)

Big question posed by James - how does he answer it?

"You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone" (James 2:24)

Well, faith, to James anyways, is not enough because without works it's 'dead' (vs. 17). He even uses the word 'justified' in this sentence - as in your faith in God is justified/righteous by your actions alongside it.

I agree with James on this point because it makes the most logical sense. James seems to point to the idea that what you do is what your faith means...and I think that is a fair assumption to make.

"OK so you are now saved" (Les)

We are saved by the 'grace of God' and 'it's nothing we did to earn it'...I agree. But that's looking at it from God's actions - which are not ours. If we look at it from our side - we have our role to play with regards to God's actions...a committment perhaps?

One needs to remember this is a 'covenant' relationship between God (on one side) and humans (on the other side). God fulfilled His end of the covenant. What is our end of that same covenant?

"How many good works must we accomplish to "prove that we are saved or have enough faith"?" (Les)

According to James - living the values as your core values would be enough.

"For He who said, "DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY," also said, "DO NOT COMMIT MURDER." Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:11-13)

James seems to think we shouldn't think our liberty can produce 'bad things'. There is still a value system to systemically live by - I would propose he is talking about the teachings of Jesus.

If we believe in God we will follow the teachings and not ask 'how much is enough'? Why would we care if was not enough - we are doing our best with what we have been given. The teachings are not there to condemn one - but to help one fix their lives and teach them to 'love their neighbor'. I don't know if there is an end to what we can learn from God's words.

Here's one from RC Sproul. Jesus did not say if you love me I will save you, he did not say if you are obedient I will save you, He said if you love me then obey my law. No stipulation about salvation. The rich young ruler followed the law, he did all of the things that the law asked and then Jesus said give up all of your wealth and follow me. He wasn't sinful because he was rich, Jesus just made the statement to let him know that he wasn't perfect. The crowd around him couldn't understand because this man seemed to them as very righteous and they were confused as to why Jesus didn't think he had done enough to be saved. They wondered if this man could not be saved then who will be saved? And of course Jesus told them that anything is possible thru God.

Luther also had trouble with James but you can't deny Ephesians 2:8 and 9 or Galations, or Colossians or Romans etc. and what they say about grace.

It seems this definition and version of Christianity/evangelicalism is becoming more and more popular. I don't know why that is. Perhaps Christians have just grown weary of the world constantly putting them down? I understand the weariness, especially in today's culture which continues to grow more and more hostile toward Christianity in general and Christians in particular.

But it's not like we were warned about this. It is what the bible and Jesus in particular said would happen to those who profess and practice biblical Christianity. It seems Christians these days want so badly to relate to the world that they are afraid to say anything that might make the world look down their nose at them.

But again, the bible teaches this will happen! We are not of this world and so the world will hate us. It does not mean we go out of our way to be annoying or obnoxious, but we have to accept the fact that the world - by its nature and by the nature of who and what WE are - despises us.

My kingdom for an Edit key.

My sentence should've read:

But it's not like WERE NOT warned about this.

"Luther also had trouble with James but you can't deny Ephesians 2:8 and 9 or Galations, or Colossians or Romans etc. and what they say about grace." (Les)

Ephesians 2:8 - oddly enough - I was arguing this morning with someone else and I think the gift in that passage is the grace of God - through faith - not faith in and of itself.

I do not deny Paul's works but I am starting to realize the rift between him and the Jerusalem council (James, Peter, and John) was likely over the heated issue of morality and faith. See Acts 15 and Galatians 2 for more on those arguments.

Paul seems to pose the argument that through faith in God we recieve salvation (sensible enough). This salvation is sealed with the Spirit of God...which in turn leads the believer. This seems to be his position in his letters. The one thing he overlooked was morality.

What exactly is Paul's faith system tied to in the way of morality for the individual? He never really gets on about this except to say 'live by the Spirit' (which is a very vague term in and of itself with little for us to go on about). And when he does give teachings - he's basing this on what exactly? His own experience as a Pharisee?

Paul's system seems to lack 'backbone' and this is evidenced in his letters. Almost every letter is addressing one or another type of serious moral issue within the community. He is also defending his position in light of better alternatives - like following the Jewish law (Torah)...complete with moral teachings.

I think this is where James and the crew come in and try to address this issue. They were Torah observant and saw that the ethics of Torah were befitting of the Christian community - as Jesus even taught from those same ethics. It makes me wonder if Paul ever saw a gospel in his lifetime - he never quotes them...whereas James seems to be quoting Jesus from Matthew's gospel.

At least with James he holds communities accountable by saying 'you faith without works is dead'...meaning if you behave a certain way and follow Jesus you are probably lying.

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